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Pacific Fleet’s Goodwill Mission to Japan

Pacific Fleet’s Goodwill Mission to Japan
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VLADIVOSTOK. October 15. VOSTOK-MEDIA – The Pacific Fleet destroyer Admiral Panteleyev is on its goodwill visit to Hakodate, Japan. During the visit, which is scheduled to begin today and last through October 19, the Russian seamen will take a tour around the city, visit museums and cultural sites as well as host an open day for Hakodate residents to show them the day-to-day life of the Pacific Fleet ship and let them enjoy the Russian cordiality and hospitality.

Last year, the Admiral Panteleyev completed the anti-piracy mission in the Gulf of Aden protecting civil cargo vessels from pirates' attacks. Many of the crew members were awarded medals back then. The experience gained by the Russian seamen during the mission will certainly be of considerable interest to their Japanese counterparts.

It is not fortuitous that Hakodate has been chosen for this year’s visit since it is in that city that the history of Russian-Japanese takes roots.

In 1793, Catherine the Great launched a diplomatic mission led by Adam Laxman to Hakodate to establish ties between Russia and Japan. In the following year, Hakodate was visited by the first Russian frigate Diane under the command of the Admiral Yevfimy Putyatin.

Following the signing of the Treaty of Shimoda in 1855, the first Russian consulate was opened in Hakodate. Royal Court Counselor I. Gorshkevich and Russian combat medic Albrekht were assigned to serve in the consulate. In the summer of 1863, the first European hospital was built near the consulate building, which offered the Japanese an opportunity to study European medicine. The hospital provided medical treatment to Russian nationals as well as locals. Back then, the counselor Gorshkevich brought a camera – previously unheard of device in Japan - and taught them the art of photography.  

The Russian diplomatic mission and the consulate played a considerable role in familiarizing the Japanese with European civilization, and Hakodate became the springboard for further development of Russian-Japanese relations.

At present Hakodate is one of the sister-cities of Vladivostok. There is a FENU school operating in the city that offers a range of curses including Russian language, history and culture. Hakodate also hosts Russian Consulate General and the “Russian village”.

Unfortunately, the relations between Russia and Japan have somewhat deteriorated due to the Japanese government’s incessant claims to four Kuril islands. The attempts to revise the history of World War II and to move US military bases off Okinava Island cost former Japanese Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama his political career. But the incumbent Prime Minster Nato Kan appears to pursue the course of his predecessor in relation to the four Kuril islands.

On September 29, shortly after his visit to China, President Dmitry Medvedev announced his plans to visit Southern Kuril Islands. The announcement sparked considerable concern among the Japanese political elite prompting them to send a diplomatic note to Moscow saying that Medvedev’s visit to the Kuril Islands without coordination with the Japanese side may raise tensions between the two countries, and recommending Moscow to cancel the visit. That bed weather conditions prevented the President’s plane from landing in the Yuzhno-Kurilsk airport was presented by the Japanese media as the “triumph of the Japanese diplomacy”.

And now it is up to the Russian seamen to continue strengthening friendly and neighborly ties with Japan. The history of relations between out nations has many bright pages. What is more, Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force vessels have taken to visiting the main base of the Pacific Fleet. There is no doubt that the relations between the two countries will be friendly and convivial.  

The Vostok-Media editor Nikolay Kutenkikh.

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